How to become an operations manager

Operations managers are like conductors in orchestras, ensuring that employees and departments work efficiently towards common goals, improving processes and removing roadblocks.

Begin your career in operations management

Operations managers can come from a variety of business backgrounds, but typically hold both an undergraduate and postgraduate degree, plus have extensive work experience. Keen to start building your career?

  1. Take on a bachelor degree in a relevant area such as business, business administration or supply chain management.
  2. Think about a sector you’re interested in, then gain work experience in support or junior management roles.
  3. To advance your career, you might want to complete a postgraduate qualification in business administration, such as a Graduate Certificate in Business Administration or Master of Business Administration (MBA) online
  4. Keep your skills fresh by enrolling in single subjects(otherwise known as a microcredentials) or short courses.

What does an operations manager do?

Like the conductor in an orchestra, operations managers know how different functions within the organisation work, what each section needs to do and when, and facilitate smooth collaboration and synchronisation.  

They are key personnel in upper management who always have the company’s vision and goals in mind. Guided by that vision, they work strategically and analytically across departments to provide support where needed, steer projects and generally, get things done!

Duties and tasks

  • Lead and coordinate different departments within an organisation
  • Create long-term plans to enhance productivity and efficiency
  • Manage the effectiveness of support services like human resources, IT and finance
  • Develop and control budgets and manage resources
  • Improve business processes, organisational planning, information management and reporting
  • Build relationships, manage conflict and negotiate between internal and external parties
  • Develop and maintain an environment of trust, diversity and inclusion

Industry bodies

Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD)

AICD is dedicated to improving the quality of governance and policy leadership. The organisation offers courses on governance, finance, strategy and risk to senior managers and executives who aspire to become directors.

Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML ANZ)

IML is our region’s peak body for management and leadership, aiming to help professionals develop the key competencies they need to lead well. 

Strategic Management Society (SMS)

SMS boasts 3000 members from over 80 countries, including consultants, business practitioners and academics. Members can engage via webinars, conferences and publish in three journals. 

Operations management and business administration jobs

Operations managers are always needed, especially in large or complex organisations. At time of publishing, there are 5,154 job openings on LinkedIn in industries as diverse as retail, education, healthcare and tech.  

These are some titles you’ll find when searching for operations-related jobs (roughly arranged from junior to senior):

  • Logistics analyst
  • Process engineer
  • Operations analyst
  • Supply chain specialist
  • Project manager
  • Program manager
  • Senior project manager
  • Operations manager
  • Director of operations
  • Chief operating officer (COO)
  • Chief executive officer (CEO)

Step up your career with these resources

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How to negotiate a higher salary

Not sure what to say when negotiating your salary? Follow these tips from career strategist Kelly Magowan next time you need to make your case with an employer.

Is a career in project management right for you?

Do you get a kick out of thinking big and getting things done? You could make a great project manager. 

Are microcredentials worth it?

You can study a microcredential in just about any industry, from healthcare and education to business and marketing. Here’s why these skills-based short courses are worth your time.

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